How and Why You Should Optimize Your Site for Mobile Devices

Eric Solomon   •   January 30, 2018

Mobile Design

It’s official: the digital world has shifted from the desktop computer to the mobile device. As of 2016, more people search on mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) than computers. With mobile usage now accounting for 60 percent of time spent using digital media, it’s clear that the days of desktop dominance are over.

So why are the majority of sites are still built for desktop users? In a time when everyone is on the go, having a website that is optimized for mobile users is more important than ever. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what it means to optimize your site for mobile devices and some tips on how to do it.

What are mobile-friendly pages?

Speaking technically, a mobile-friendly webpage has a Responsive Web Design (RWD), which aims to provide the best user experience across a range of various devices (smart phones, desktop computers, and tablets) by reacting to the width of the browser. To check if your website is mobile friendly, Google has various tools such as the “Mobile-Friendly Test.” This tool will tell you if your website is mobile friendly or not and what changes you can make to fix it.

Google’s Mobile-First Index

Since users rely on mobile devices for most of their online activities, Google has released various updates designed to make the web easier to navigate on mobile devices. The latest of these updates includes the “mobile-first index.” Until recently, Google’s ranking systems looked at desktop versions of a web page to evaluate its relevance to a user. With most people now searching with a mobile device, this can cause problems with the kind of content provided to the user. But now, Google’s mobile-first index treats mobile versions of a web page as the primary page to index and evaluate relevance to a user.

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP)

You may have heard the term Accelerated Mobile Page or Google’s AMP. Released in 2016, Accelerated Mobile Page is a Google-backed open-source project designed to make mobile pages load incredibly fast. Essentially, it’s a stripped-down form of an HTML page created for quick load speed and readability on mobile devices. Google has begun giving preference to AMP pages because of its fast loading speed and easy crawlability. For WordPress users, there’s an Accelerated Mobile Page plugin that will help you set up AMP pages on your website.

How do I create a mobile friendly site?

When creating a mobile friendly site you initially have two choices: adaptive mobile design vs. responsive mobile design. An adaptive mobile site works by creating different website layouts for each type of device. In short, it determines a user’s device and adjusts itself (adapts) to provide the user with the optimal layout. A responsive web design works by responding to the device and screen size on which the site is being viewed. For example, if you take the corner of your web browser and drag it in inward, you will notice the screen adjusting to the change in screen size. Most sites currently use a responsive design.

The next step, of course is deciding whether you’ll build the site yourself (which requires quite a bit of coding know-how) or whether you’ll use a website design platform such as Squarespace, WordPress, or Wix. Once you choose which direction you want to go, you’ll be on your way to building a great looking mobile-friendly website.